Ambulance crews are unable to drive their new vehicles because of their height or body shape, New Fiat ambulances are being rolled out across the country to replace old Mercedes models but many members of ambulance crews say they are unable to drive them, reports the BBC.
The vehicles have already been rolled out by the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) and are being adopted by trusts across the country. An EEAST spokesperson said it was working to address issues after 94 staff members said thet couldn’t drive the new vans because of their height or body shape.
Among the problems, taller staff have complained of difficulties fitting into the cabs of the Fiat Ducatos. Other complaints include back pain, not being able to see out of the windscreen properly and knees and shins scraping the dashboard.
Drivers have also reported their uniform boots too big for pedals that are too close together, resulting in the accelerator being pressed instead of the brake. Theree was also a problem, which has now been fixed, with engines cutting out when the ambulances went over potholes.
One crew member told the BBC: “I was told that anyone over 5ft 9in (1.75m) would be unable to drive it as they would not be able to achieve a comfortable and safe driving position. I did try to get into the driver’s seat but I couldn’t adjust the seat to allow me to operate the pedals properly and the steering wheel was pressed against my legs, making it difficult to steer safely.”
An EEAST spokesperson said: “Since the rollout, a small number of colleagues raised concerns about the cab area, which is the same as the current national ambulance specification. We have been working to address these issues, which affect a small proportion of our colleagues, through assessment by an independent ergonomist to identify potential modifications to the vehicles.”
It said some of its older Mercedes ambulances had been retained for staff unable to drive the Fiats. Taller staff at South East Coast Ambulance Trust said they also had problems with seatbelts not fitting properly.
A spokeswoman for Fiat said: “The Fiat Professional Ducato, alongside all vehicles, must adhere to a European type approval as well as Euro NCAP, a rigorous set of safety tests.
“The installation of seat belts is carried out in accordance with rules set by the ECE14 and ECE16 standards.
“If these standards are not adhered to, the vehicle cannot be approved and therefore sold. Fiat Professional’s vehicles, including the Ducato, fully comply with all legislation.”